What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Some people infected with the virus have no symptoms. When the virus does cause symptoms, common ones include fever, body ache, dry cough, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, and loss of smell. In some people, COVID-19 causes more severe symptoms like high fever, severe cough, and shortness of breath, which often indicates pneumonia.

People with COVID-19 can also experience neurological symptoms, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, or both. These may occur with or without respiratory symptoms.

For example, COVID-19 affects brain function in some people. Specific neurological symptoms seen in people with COVID-19 include loss of smell, inability to taste, muscle weakness, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, dizziness, confusion, delirium, seizures, and stroke.

In addition, some people have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain or discomfort associated with COVID-19.

How do I know if I have COVID-19, the flu, or just a cold?

Now that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is the dominant strain, telling the difference is more challenging than ever. Even if you have been vaccinated and boosted, you can still get symptoms, but they are likely to be mild to moderate in severity. For those not vaccinated, the risk of severe symptoms that can be life-threatening is still substantial.

At the current time, people with "flulike" symptoms should assume they have COVID. If possible, arrange to get tested or do a home test.

  • If the test is positive, you should isolate at home for five days.

  • If you had a negative test when symptoms started, it’s still best to isolate at home for two to three more days, to monitor your symptoms and prevent spreading infection. That’s because there is a chance of false negatives with antigen tests, which means you can still have COVID with a negative test. Consider testing again before going out. Once you are ready to leave home, continue to consistently wear a mask for at least five more days.

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